David & Margaret


David was born in Edmonton, AB and has been, consecutively, child, student, traveller, student, teacher, husband, farmer, parent, teacher-parent, musician, handyman, tipi-dweller, alternative energy systems designer and installer, builder, handyman, musician, grand-parent, handyman, musician, handyman, grand-parent, musician. 

Margaret is a Plains Cree elder originally from Saddle Lake, AB. She learned her craft from her parents and grand-parents. She has hosted women's gatherings for the last 30 years. She was for 22 years the Native Cultural Arts teacher at Northern Lakes College. Her main focus now is workshop facilitator. She also has several multi-media art projects on the go. 

Margaret's Biography


Margaret Cardinal  was raised traditionally in a Northern Plains Cree environment. She is originally from Saddle Lake First Nation in Northeastern Alberta.

Aboriginal clothing, art and design is learned more in the informal arena and Margaret has pursued countless opportunities there. 
She has studied under her own parents, aunts, uncles and various elders in her community, as well as at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, where she was awarded a diploma in the two year Tailor Technician and Clothing Design program. Her learning in this area is continuous and well-grounded in Northern Plains Cree culture , in whose language she also offers all her courses and workshops, as well as in English.

Frequently asked to do workshops and teach, Margaret has developed a large repertoire of inclusive activities. She has made dolls and played traditional Cree games with young people, and done shield-making with women's groups. Her ability to tailor the activity to the group and combine it with traditional aboriginal teaching is unique.

Kamahmahkos : (Little butterfly)                             

Artists Statement

The smell of smoke-tanned moose, elk, and deer hides my mother made. 
The beautiful bead work she did. The dolls my father made for me, that included stories. These are my inspirations.
Keep the items simple, enjoy the beads, embellish the moments when working with rare materials in an almost lost art form.
Stuffing my dolls, amulets and pouches with sweet grass and sage is a prayer in itself.
Margaret L Cardinal 


My late father made me my first dolls and miniatures in the late fifties. I was the only girl in the family for about ten years so the dolls they both made came to me. My dolls we wrapped in moss bags and rags. What I now call the little people dolls never had any faces or loose moccasins. The wooden miniatures were made of saskatoon wood and left over hide pieces that my parents did not need.

I starting making dolls in the late eighties, as a teaching tool, in schools and at local cultural events. I entered a contest for unique dolls and won 2nd prize in the Alberta Ballet Company's "Coppelia" doll dressing 
competition in 1985. This opened a whole new world for me and my dolls.

The dolls themselves were made of smoke-tanned moosehide bodies with buckskin and/or printed cotton attire. Each doll is unique in itʼs regalia. There are three different sizes: 40 cm tall, 20 cm, 13 cm. I like to give each of the dolls Cree names. A few come in pairs, the odd one will have a baby in tow.

I feel there is much more to the production of the dolls then mere economics. Making them, for me, demonstrates my sense of pride in my Cree heritage and commitment to preserving the history and culture of the Plains Cree for future generations.